Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Murder of human rights activists in Russia

Delivered in Plenary - 17th September 2009

Mr President

A culture of criminal impunity is developing in Russia with regard to the abuse of human rights activists. Journalists who dare to challenge the official view of things are harassed; ethnic minorities suffer disproportionately from violent crime, which seems to go unsolved; campaigners for greater freedoms are at best marginalised and at worst forcibly silenced.

It is hard to see precisely where the threat to human rights defenders in Russia comes from, but time and again we see wanton abuses going unpunished and a lackadaisical approach from the judicial authorities.

Russia has got used to the equivocation of the EU. This is clear from the way the Union has reacted to Russia’s bullying of Ukraine or Russia’s invasion and occupation of sovereign Georgian territory last summer.

Clearly there are vital strategic questions at stake in the EU having good relations with Russia, but we cannot allow these questions to erase our obligation to speak out for our fundamental freedoms and shared European common values, freedoms and values the Russian people themselves should be enabled to share fully in peace and security.